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Ruins of the Modern Age

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Yeah, school's definitely out today.

Want to make something set in the future? What better way than making it look like our current era has passed? Have all the trappings of our modern time fall into disuse and litter the landscape, possibly with nature beginning to reclaim it. Used to great effect in many After the End pieces. Related to Scenery Gorn and Ragnarök Proofing. See also Monumental Damage Resistance. For further down the line see Techno Wreckage.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Big O features a number of sequences, including one aquatic one through Grand Central Terminal, that reveal something interesting about Paradigm City: It's built on the ruins of New York.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Every time there's an episode that takes place on Earth. In "Speak Like a Child", Spike and Jet trudge through an abandoned museum in search of a rare Beta video tape player.
  • Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters: The landing party find the overgrown ruins of cities even though 20,000 years have passed since they left Earth. Then they realise the structures are actually fungi which fossilized in the shape of the buildings they once covered.
  • Scrapped Princess: At one point, the three main characters pass through the decrepit remains of a skyscraper. All that's left is the cement skeleton, but one of them remarks on how unnatural the "rock formations" look.
  • Sound of the Sky's No Man's Land and the battlefield of Binnenland seen in flashbacks are full of tumble-down skyscrapers and ravaged cities. Even though there are glimpses of super-advanced Lost Technology in the show, the urban landscape come across as current day.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- has Acid Tokyo, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, a future version of Tokyo where unceasing acid rain has made decades look like centuries and the place has begun to become a desert. By extension, Clow Country is also this, although there has been has been enough time that only one building remains immediately visible above the sand, and its weathered enough to be unrecognizable.
  • Highlander: The Search for Vengeance is placed After the End as we get to see flooded sports stadiums and multistory car parks that are being used as hideouts as they're the only thing above the water level. Also New York has seen better days.
  • Sunday Without God takes place in a world where fifteen years prior, people stopped being able to give birth, so the population has diminished considerably, and thus Ai and her friends come across the occasional ruined and abandoned modern building in their travels.


    Comic Books 
  • The DCU's Kamandi by Jack Kirby was full of this, including the first issue cover which homaged/ripped off the Statue of Liberty from Planet of the Apes (1968).
  • Killraven: The Martians make terrible landlords. They may occupy New York City, but they don't really bother to maintain the place. A recurring theme of the series is Killraven and his gang stumbling on the latest ruined city as they travel across America and having no idea what they're looking at.
  • Kingdom lovingly shows off the ruins of Sydney.
  • Valérian: "City of Moving Waters" takes place in a flooded post-apocalyptic New York City. Most of the city's landmarks are still around.

    Films — Animation 
  • Patema Inverted: In the film's final scene, Age/Eiji asks Patema to take him with her so they can explore the ruins of the surface world. Which is strewn with collapsed skyscrapers that've been overgrown with vines, set beneath an Alien Sky.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie:
    • The island where Sonic and Tails live is covered in a pile of wrecked, rusted and vegetation-covered machines such as a passenger airplane, a train, and communications towers.
    • The "ancient relics" on the outskirts of Robotropolis in the Land of Darkness are recognizably those of modern architecture, covered in vines and with derelict cars lining the streets. When Sonic and Tails climb a skyscraper, the skyline is recognizably that of Manhattan, complete with the Empire State Building and one of the Twin Towers. Impressively, the streetlights still work.
  • WALL•E: Earth has been reduced to one big pop-culture garbage heap.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • At the start of 12 Monkeys, James Cole Got Volunteered to leave the Underground City in a Hazmat Suit to collect samples from the ruins of Philadelphia. This serves to establish the post-pandemic world he lives in before he time-travels to the past.
  • Alien: Resurrection: In the extended ending, the final shot after the survivors arrive on 24th century Earth is a view of the grim, desolate apocalyptic ruins of Paris, with the half-fallen Eiffel Tower identifiable.
  • The Colony (2013): Both the futuristic weather machines and the modern cities' skylines, river-spanning bridges and wrecked vehicles are still visible on the Earth's surface, preserved in the ice and cold.
  • Planet of the Apes (1968): "You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you! God damn you all to hell!"
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: A matter of decades after the present in the Bad Future, New York's skyline consists of bombed-out looking shells of buildings, the X-Mansion isn't much better, and the only place we see that seems largely untouched by the apocalypse is the monastery high in the Tibetan Alps.
  • Logan's Run: The world outside the domed City is all ruins, including an overgrown Washington, D.C..
  • The ending of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence takes place in a flooded Manhattan where all the skyscrapers are collapsed, in the process of collapsing, or in really bad shape overall.
  • The Time Machine (2002) has the protagonist visit a library 20 Minutes into the Future, and then visit the same library After the End. The library has deteriorated quite a bit by the second visit, although the A.I. is still active. Also, Word of God is that the cliffs used by the Eloi to build their villages are remains of New York skyscrapers, apparently able to withstand 800,000 years of erosion and an Ice Age but covered in dirt.
  • Waterworld: The ruins can be found underwater.
  • The alternate ending of Army of Darkness has Ash accidentally traveling from medieval England into a post-apocalyptic era. A wide landscape shot reveals this via the ruined face of Big Ben.
  • I Am Legend (the film adaptation) is set in New York City three years after the Zombie Apocalypse. The Ωmega Man, an earlier adaptation of the same book, features suburban Los Angeles After the End. Word of God is that the setting was deliberately moved to New York in order to show just how empty it is. After all, New York is never empty. L.A. looks empty at 3PM.
    • It's also worth noting that the filmmakers consulted extensively with experts to determine just how the city would fare during the intervening years, what would fail and what wouldn't, and how badly different systems and structures would decay. At least one nonfiction book was published as a result of this research.
  • Battlefield Earth shows them in ruins. To the point that the humans think that mascot statues on a golf course were gods.
    Nostalgia Critic: And over here we see a mouse god named Mickey.
  • The Book of Eli: In the not-too-distant future, some 30 years after the final war, a solitary man walks across the wasteland that was once America.
  • Escape from New York, while not a true example, makes use of the trope's effect.
  • Terminator Salvation has a group of people hiding out in a 7-11 that has definitely seen better days.
  • Much of the setting of Oblivion (2013).
  • In The Last Witch Hunter, the vision of the future the Witch Queen shows to Kaulder is ruined New York, rusting and overgrown with vegetation.
  • 20 Years After has tons of dilapidated/abandoned structures and vehicles as well as few people left.
  • IO: Sam lives on a mountaintop enclave and travels down into the Zone which is shrouded in a permanent fog of toxins which have made the Earth uninhabitable. She however finds the ruins quite beautiful, unlike Micah who is old enough to remember what the city was like Before and says they're full of ghosts.

  • In the short story By the Waters of Babylon, by Stephen Vincent Benét, the son of a priest goes on a spiritual journey to the ruins of an American city which was once New York — they call this "the Place of the Gods". This came out in 1937 and was written in response to the Bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, where the Luftwaffe destroyed around two-thirds of a Basque town. It's strongly implied that civilization was destroyed in a war with bombings and poison gas at the least.
  • Guardians Of Gahoole: According to Word of God, the story's setting is an After the End where humans are extinct, and St. Aggie's and other works of architecture left behind by the extinct Others are indeed this trope.
  • In "Missile Gap", by Charles Stross, one of the first signs that something is terribly wrong is when a Soviet exploration team, while surveying a continent one hundred and forty thousand miles from Earth, find the thousands-years-old ruins of perfect copies of American cities.
  • The Road: A man and a boy survive by scrounging materials from the ruined landscape After the End, and pass by several abandoned cities.
  • The Wheel of Time: This becomes very common at just about the point the reader starts thinking he's reading a standard fantasy tale. The Breaking of the World, followed by repeated wars and a slow depopulation, have left wrecked cities (along with the occasional Artifact of Doom) all over the world. Unexpectedly played for laughs when a mysterious museum artifact that "radiates pride and vanity" can be recognized by readers as a Mercedes hood ornament.
  • In Honor Harrington, the city of Chicago is built upon the remains of the old Chicago, nearly destroyed in the Final War that wiped out much of the population still on the homeworld, about two millennia prior to the main story setting. The Eric Flint short story "From the Highlands" goes into this a bit, including the protagonists stumbling into the remains of the Art Institute. Also, a plot-important political rally takes place in the partially renovated remains of Soldier Field... deep underground.
  • H. G. Wells' The Time Machine (the original novel and probably other adaptations as well) has a museum dedicated to the rotting ruins of the past. The museum itself had long been forgotten by the dull and complacent future children of humanity.
  • In Book of the New Sun there are entire towns that make their living by digging up the refuse of the past. Then again, the novels are set so far into the future that it may not be the ruins of the modern age, rather some future age. (We are told that the mine tailings contain perfectly preserved corpses, which is probably beyond today's science.)
  • Eternity Road by Jack McDevitt has this in its title—we're remembered as the "Roadmakers," because our highways are the only things we left behind.
  • Flood features underwater ruins as a global flood continually rises and drowns everything. People survive by diving down and scavenging usable materials.
  • Terry Pratchett's Good Omens references this;
    "walking like a man carrying a thermos flask of something that might cause, if he dropped it or even thought about dropping it, the sort of explosion that impels grey-beards to make statements like "And where this crater is now, once stood the city of Wah-Shing-Ton", in SF B-movies."
  • Larry Niven's Beowulf Shaeffer series mentions crumbling roadways on Earth. They're crumbling not because of disaster, but quite the opposite — they became obsolete once flying vehicles were ubiquitous. There's a section of roadway around Los Angeles preserved so that people can drive on it for sport.
  • The multi-author Death Zone series, which take place about 50 years after Stalker (1979) show five such zones where ruins of former cities (including St. Petersburg) are isolated from the rest of the world by gravity barriers. The ruins are also present for several miles outside the zones, caused by the initial blasts that destroyed these cities and formed the anomalous zones. The people inside the zones have adapted their bodies using nano-implants, scrounge for supplies, and vie for control. Not only is the environment dangerous (various anomalies, poisonous air), but the area is covered with rogue nanotechnology that infects anything that comes into contact with it, machine and man alike, turning the unfortunates into metallic zombies.
  • John Wyndham:
    • The Chrysalids has the remains of US cities as being still radioactive enough to still glow at night and kill passing sailors over a millennium after the 'Tribulation', where nuclear and mutagenic weapons were used in an all-out world war.
    • The Day of the Triffids and The Kraken Wakes also feature the descent into ruin of civilisation, although more on a permanent scale in the former book, describing London being reclaimed by vegetation and buildings collapsing.
  • "The Zone" from Roadside Picnic is a region abandoned by all (well — almost all) human population, and industrial facilities and whole city quarters have been left deserted and slowly crumbling (or inexplicably preserved by the strange properties of the Zone) for decades.
  • After a plague wipes out most of humanity, the protagonist of Earth Abides watches the city of San Francisco deteriorate from nearly intact to fire- and earthquake-ravaged ruins over the course of several decades.
  • Much of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series has this aesthetic. Especially the city of Lud, which is an alternate-universe New York hundreds of years After the End, populated by violent, fanatic gangs who scavenge the ancient technology and mostly use it to kill each other.
  • The Tripods series has the main characters touring France, passing through a ruined Paris at one point.
  • Much of Locksmith's Closet is set in this. After a while, going back and forth between the inhabited, functioning world of the present and the ruins of the future starts to have a bad effect on Lock's mind.
  • Ape and Essence has a poem describing a ruined sewer.
  • In Star Carrier's back story, global warming caused water levels to rise, with many coastal cities across the world drowning, while others were only protected by sea walls. Then the Chinese performed their Colony Drop in the Atlantic, causing most of those cities to be completely flooded. Now, these largely abandoned cities are called the Periphery. Only squatties live these, refusing the join the modern society. In particular, the ruins of Manhattan are frequently referenced, as Trevor Gray, one of the point-of-view characters, lived most of his life in the ruins of the TriBeCa Towernote . Another key character is from the Washington Swamps, the remains of the former D.C. area (the administrative District of Columbia has been moved to Columbus, Ohio, the new capital). Yet another character is from the ruins of Baltimore. Notably, the Statue of Liberty is mentioned to have largely survived being drowned several times, and Periphery restoration efforts are shown at the end of the third novel.
  • Seattle in Clocks that Don't Tick. The streets are filthy, full of casual murder, and home to entrepreneurs selling false cures to the setting's myriad diseases. The buildings are crumbled, crumbling, or patched up with plywood and glue. According to one of the protagonists, the rest of the world didn't fare any better.
  • The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell sets this trope, paradoxically, in the past. The Saxon and Viking kingdoms that arose in England in the late 700's discovered the ruins of the departed Romans. Four centuries on from the Roman Empire, the Saxons found the infrastructure left behind by a departed people, and only had a hazy idea as to how it got there. They do know the stone buildings, the city walls, and the roads linking them, are there, and are far in advance of anything that their technology can create. This leads to extravagant speculation about a race of gods and giants - as well as a depressive sense of culture shock among the more thoughtful Saxons who wonder if this is a sign of former greatness now degenerating into a Crapsack World. The hero Uhtred has a sense of awe and angst when he sees Hadrian's Wall for the first time, for instance. Although he has fought the Scots and understands exactly why the Wall was built. He just can't comprehend how. But the ruins of a former modern age are all around, for all to see.
  • Older Than Radio: Horace Smith's 1818 poem "Ozymandias" (not to be confused with Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem of the same name) invokes the image of a hunter, wandering "thro' the wilderness / Where London stood", who
    meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
    What powerful but unrecorded race
    Once dwelt in that annihilated place.
  • Lilith's Brood: Defied by the alien Oankali who rescue a remnant of humanity After the End. Before returning them to Earth, they deliberately raze and bury any old human settlement that survived the final nuclear war, in order to discourage them from repeating their predecessors' mistakes and force them to form a new social order.
  • Beyond Thirty: In 2137, Pan-American Navy Lieutenant Jefferson Turck and his companions travel through the Lost World of Europe, and visit the ruins of many of Europe's great cities; destroyed 200 years earlier in a version of The Great War that lasted much longer and was much more destructive.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Shown in Aftermath: Population Zero and Life After People. Both show the ruined remains of the modern cities succumbing to nature's relentless advances, but showcases also several ancient ruins surviving for even more time.
  • Primeval: Played Straight in the Bad Future in Series 3, where the only known trace of humanity besides the creatures they created is decaying city ruins standing amid clifftops surrounded by wilderness.
  • Survivors is set in the then-present day and depict the aftermath of a virulent disease. Our works are sliding into ruin.
  • Revolution: The family passed by many familiar locations now overgrown with plant life, as shown in "Pilot". Also an Averted Trope instance of Ragnarök Proofing.
  • Stargate Atlantis: In a variation, "Sateda" shows Ronon's titular home planet, where the architecture resembles that of present day Earth, which was devastated by a Wraith attack in 1998. The area in which the action takes place is full of partially destroyed buildings and littered with rubble.
  • Sliders: "Dust" has the group slide into a world where archaeologists are excavating After the End American cities. The archaeologist who's digging San Francisco out of a desert dates the site as 16th century. When the protagonists look at some of the "artifacts", they see common things for a late-20th century city. The archaeologist doesn't even know what a parking meter is, and the sliders have to awkwardly try to explain the concept of "buying time". He thinks the concept is ridiculous. Oh, and they also find Quinn's old timer in the ruins, obviously nonfunctional after 400 years. And Rembrandt is a deity to the locals, who show him the secret shrine they built from all his merchandise.
  • The 100 largely averts this on the Earth's surface, as (except for the Lincoln Memorial) the world has been almost completely reclaimed by wilderness. Stuff buried underneath the surface is a different story. Main Characters seem to have a knack for stumbling across underground tunnels and bunkers full of pre-apocalypse artifacts.
  • Mostly averted in Defiance, where the Votan terraformers ended up leveling most cities and recognizable landmarks. The only thing left of the old St. Louis on the surface is the remains of the Gateway Arch. However, much of the old city remains beneath the surface in the mines, although, of course, no one lives there.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "Rite of Passage", Shal and Brav come across the ruins of an underground carpark which is littered with skeletons.
    • In "Promised Land", the Tsal-Khan family's farm is located on the outskirts of Seattle. When Ma'al visits the ruined city, the dilapidated but still standing Space Needle is seen prominently.
    • In "The Origin of Species", this trope is combined with Earth All Along. Hope and the six students realize that they are on Earth in the future, some point after the 23rd Century, when they come across the half-collapsed Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Planet of the Apes:
    • In "The Trap", Galen, Virdon and Burke visit the ruins of San Francisco. After an earthquake, Burke and Urko become trapped in a BART subway station.
    • In "The Legacy", Galen, Virdon and Burke discover the ruins of Oakland. The ruined city sets are reused from "The Trap".
  • Logan's Run: In the pilot, as in the film, Logan and Jessica discover the ruins of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. shortly after leaving the City of Domes.
  • Savoy Brown album Looking In has front and back covers featuring tiny humanoid/lizard people with medieval-style clothing looking at decayed human skulls overgrown with vegetation
    Music Videos 

    Video Games 
  • Two major dungeons from Breath of Death VII are ruins of modern-looking cities that are roamed by hostile undead creatures (including possessed cars). The second city even has traversable Sinister Subway and an Absurdly-Spacious Sewer.
  • Chrono Trigger: While most of the ruins found in 2300 A.D. are futuristic, the Lab/Site 16/32 areas look like ruins of a modern day city from the overworld and within, with burnt out cars, and the remains of stoplights.
  • In Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, most of the world's battlefields are cluttered with the Tiberium-choked ruins of major cities, and occasionally run-down bases from the previous game. The Yellow Zones of Tiberium Wars are no better, while the Red Zones are so far gone as to be hellish alien landscapes.
  • In Crysis 3, New York City has been abandoned and quarantined within a huge dome, and the old buildings are now covered in moss and greenery as CELL soldiers and the Ceph roam the streets.
  • Just about every environment in Destiny takes place at least partially in some version of these (save for the Dreadnaught and the Black Garden, which are... something else entirely.) Most of the action on Earth takes place in the ruins of the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Russia, which was the site of massive colonization ship launches up until humanity was attacked by the Darkness; the site is now being looted by the Fallen. On the Moon, the remains of lunar colonies and facilities are scattered across the surface, where the Guardians are fighting the Hive. On Venus, the remnants of a large university and research campus known as the Ishtar Collective is spread across the terraformed landscape, mixed in with the older structures of the Vex. Finally, on Mars, an old human city known as Meridian Bay hides scientific secrets and research being fought over by humanity and the Cabal.
  • The early stages of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West are set in a New York that is actually in better shape than it should be.
  • Etrian Odyssey: The fifth stratum shows up alongside the reveal that the setting where it's hosted is Earth All Along, some indeterminate amount of time after the end.
  • The Fallout games take place decades or even centuries after a nuclear apocalypse, and so are littered with the Zeerust ruins of pre-war America. The only city shown that wasn't vaporized was Las Vegas; two close-range nuclear strikes and two centuries sitting alone and untouched in the Mojave Desert has worn her down, but she still shines at night as New Vegas.
  • Final Fantasy VII had a location that was an archaeological dig. One of the relics that's been partially unearthed is quite clearly an F-14 Tomcat, implying that the story takes place on Earth in the distant future. While this was possibly Jossed by Word of God's claim that VII is a distant sequel to Final Fantasy X, there is, however, still the "500 years later" coda that shows Midgar in ruins.
  • A section of Gran Pulse from Final Fantasy XIII provides the trope picture. All around there, especially in places like Oerba, are ruins that have been abandoned for over half a millenium, owing to the fact that most of the inhabitants were either Cie'th-ed or killed, and the last survivors were frozen for centuries elsewhere. The technology level looks like early 21st century, with subways, electric lights, and windmill generators.
  • In Horizon Zero Dawn the world is absolutely littered with the ruins of the "Ancient ones", that is, people from 20 Minutes into the Future. Different tribes have different attitudes towards them; the Nora regard them with superstitious fear and consider them taboo whereas the Oseram mine them for raw materials and pieces of operable machinery.
  • Kamiko is set in one of these; the last level in particular features both ruined modern-era buses and vending machines, as well as some futuristic-looking buildings and devices.
  • The main setting of Kirby and the Forgotten Land is in another mysterious world where cities lie in ruin, overtaken by nature and populated by animals. Notably, Kirby can interact with various worn-out artifacts in this world, including cars, vending machines, traffic cones and many more.
  • Krush Kill n' Destroy uses this trope. It is set After the End, and two of the levels feature the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building half-submerged in the ground.
  • The opening chapters of The Last of Us are set in a decaying Boston invaded by vegetation.
  • This trope is a staple of the Metal Saga series.
  • Both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light prominently feature the post-nuclear war ruins of Moscow, in the form of both the human-inhabited Metro tunnels and the devastated, overgrown, radioactive, mutant-infested city on the surface. Metro Exodus goes further by showing the ruins of Novosibirsk and later, through Downloadable Content, Vladivostok.
  • Overgrowth has some hints towards this trope, but the developers insist on leaving it to the players' interpretations.
  • RimWorld takes place on a frontier planet that obviously once supported an advanced civilization that has since collapsed. There are stretches of intact highways on the world map that make traveling easier, and just about every map tile has some manner of ruins on it: crumbling walls and overgrown landing pads, ancient monuments and sarcophagi, abandoned cars and wrecked tanks, engine blocks or metal lockers rusting in the grass, barely-functional lamps, or the shells of destroyed mechtoid war-forms that hint at what wiped out the previous civilization. Some of these can be spruced up and utilized by your colonists, others are best broken down for building materials, or need to be destroyed to make room for your own constructions. More rarely you can find intact structures containing still-operational cryptosleep caskets, but they usually have an "ancient danger" guarding them. Odder still are deposits of "compacted steel" or "compacted machinery" your colonists can mine like ore veins for steel and technical components, respectively, suggesting that there's a lot more ruins buried just beneath the planet's surface.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) has Crisis City, the ruins of Soleanna, when Sonic and Co. were forcibly warped to the future by Dr. Eggman and Mephiles.
  • The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games are set in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Northern Ukraine, including the ruins of the city of Pripyat. The rest of the world is just fine, though. For the moment, at least.
  • Tokyo Jungle has you take control of a feral animal in the ruins of an overgrown, post-apocalyptic Tokyo.
  • XCOM 2
    • Many of Earth's cities have been rebuilt into shining, futuristic metropoles that the ADVENT Administration uses to corral and control humanity. But on "wilderness" map types you can find old gas stations, rural homes and entire suburbs now half-rotten and overgrown by foliage.
    • The "ruins" maps introduced in the War of the Chosen Expansion Pack are even worse: these are completely decayed urban areas consisting of apartment buildings, factories and businesses, all covered in dust and rust to the point of always being dark in them. To make it worse, they're all teeming with the Lost, the result of the aliens' use of bio-weapons during the invasion twenty years ago.
  • Shows up in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 as The Land of Morytha located beneath the Cloud Sea that everybody lives above. While the lands above the clouds are standard magitech empires, with 19th century architecture at best, the ruins of Morytha are full of crumbling concrete skyscrapers and asphalt streets. Also, the techno-zombie "survivors".
  • Zombie Shooter uses this trope to an extent; several of the game's levels have a Fallout-like look.
  • Yoko Taro really loves this trope:
    • Drakengard and its sequels have towering empty skyscrapers forging the first bulwark of defenses in the capital cities, despite taking place in the eleventh century. This is later revealed to be the shenanigans of The Old Gods, who were banished outside the universe long ago and could only interact with Earth in sporadic bursts of spacetime. They made a copy of a future city and plopped it near Spain back in 856 AD; the empires did the best they could to replicate the rotting apartment buildings, but carving stone slabs into structurally stable brutalist architecture used as dragon roosts and anti-dragon walls meant they didn't bother to furnish most of it.
    • The vast majority of NieR: Automata takes place in the ruins of an unnamed 21st century city, ten thousand years after it (along with the rest of the Earth) was decimated by an extradimensional curse/virus. It is subtly implied through the game that the reason why the buildings haven't crumbled to dust yet after such an astronomic time is that the Machine Lifeforms now controlling the Earth's surface keep the ruins in the state that they originally found them in.


    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time we get a lot of settings like this, such as hospital (complete with helicopter plate), a baseball arena for the wizard tournament and other various structures and remnants, such as the police cars and ambulances in the Underworld.
  • Futurama occasionally includes sojourns to the underground ruins of Old New York. Played straight with Los Angeles, which was never rebuilt after an apocalypse. The city is still inhabited, and Bender refers to mentioning this as "social commentary".
  • Just about every episode of Thundarr the Barbarian.
  • Return to the Planet of the Apes: In "The Unearthly Prophecy", Bill and Jeff discover the ruins of the New York Public Library in the Underdwellers' caverns.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, set After the End, uses this for the surface world.

    Real Life 
  • The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and other works record the culture shock experienced by the Saxon incomers on discovering the size and the extent of the evidence that a great civilization once lived in the British Isles. The works of the Roman Empire are discussed as well as the awe Saxons felt at discovering the extensive network of paved roads linking cities, the stone fortifications, the still-extant stone buildings of unbelievable size and structural grandeur. To the Saxons, the three-or-four centuries old Roman infrastructure was indeed Ruins of the Modern Age. The more thoughtful Saxons also wondered exactly what calamity had befallen this race of Gods that they had fled the land and were no longer there. note 
  • This was something Albert Speer has included in his plans for buildings and entire cities for the Nazi regime in Germany, designing them in a way they looked imposing and impressive even when in a state of decay. The idea behind this was that, should the Third Reich enter a temporary period of decline during its thousand year duration, the ruins of its glory days would help fuel a Renaissance-like effect (as the remains of ancient Rome did in Europe centuries earlier). Considering that the buildings were supposed to be built during the 20th century, they would quite literally have been Ruins of the Modern Age. Unfortunately for fans of Speer's architectural style, the "ruin value" of a building that's been attacked with modern artillery or bomber aircraft is pretty minimal, and the occupation forces made a point of thoroughly dismantling any prominent symbols of Nazism that were left after the war. One of Speer's only works to be left relatively unarmed was essentially a large concrete cylinder built for structural testing in the run-up to the construction of a triumphal arch.
  • For a localised example, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Ukraine. The entire area including the nearby town of Pripyat is largely uninhabited and has since been reclaimed by nature.
  • "UrbEx," or "Urban Exploration," is an effort by independent filmmakers and Youtubers to explore structures and buildings in North America left abandoned by economic downturns, safety concerns, and various other societal shifts. There are a surprising number of shopping malls, mental hospitals, and residential developments in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, left empty and crumbling because there is no interest in restoring them and no pressing need to demolish them.